THE BOOK OF BRAVE

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Self-help isn’t my thing. I don’t want to be told what to do or how I should do it. And I certainly don’t want to be told that someone else’s route to success is better than mine.

Which is why I love this short by Laura of Superlatively Rude.

Her blog found me about a year ago and I immediately fell in love with her openness. You might think that I’m pretty honest on here, but she’s naked on the Internet honest. And that’s brave. Or, as I’ve now learnt, Laura’s version of brave. My version of brave is something else entirely. As is yours, probably. And that’s okay, which is something that this book has taught me.

A far cry from those irritating ‘Guides to Life’, this book made me laugh and then it made me (on page 38) clutch my chest and gasp – just like in the movies – because I couldn’t believe that someone could get over something so shitty. I tried to put myself into her situation and struggled to cope with it within the confines of my mind, let alone in reality. But she has coped. And the very fact that she can now mention it fleetingly in her successful e-book like she’s talking about her favourite toast topping (when I know how much pain she must have been in at the time) makes me believe that time really might be a healer.

But anyway, back to her writing.

I can totally understand how people would be all like ‘WOAH THERE TIGER! I DON’T NEED TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR ONE NIGHT STANDS, NAKED PHOTO SHOOTS AND CURIOUS EXPLORATION OF THE WORLD!’ but it’s what I need. And I think, if you really lean into it, you’ll realise that it’s what you need too.

For a while now, I have wanted someone to tell me that, in her words, ‘none of us are f**king up like we think we are’ because my twenties have been hard. Way more difficult than my surprisingly spot-free teenage years. Way more trying than the years I spent loving someone who didn’t love me back in primary school. And way more frustrating than that time my brother cut off all of my hair the day before my second birthday. Laura’s book walks me through my twenties in a way that makes it okay to fall, fail, laugh and get back up again. Her writing allows me to reflect and think, ‘you’re doing okay, actually’ which is what I need. And, as I say, you probably do too- whether you are 26, 37 or 52.

I do have to mention one thing that left me feeling frustrated though, because I have to be honest. And Laura, if you’re reading this, I know that you have to be honest with yourself too.

And that’s the typos.

I only mention it because I think that the contents of this book are too good to be delivered in a way that is anything less than perfect. And I think you’re too good not to be critiqued in the way I would critique any other author.

But I digress.

Laura won’t tell you what, how or where you should begin to be your best self. But she will tell you why you should try. She will give you options as to how you can get there. She will remind you that your path won’t be her path, my path or your next-door neighbour’s path. We all have our own routes to success and happiness and Laura encourages us to be brave enough to walk down our own one, despite what other people might say or think.

I could reel off the pages, paragraphs and even sentences that spoke to me, but why would I? You’re going to read it. Because even if it’s not your thing, you’ll find the courage to try something new. And if you don’t want to read it because it might force you to push yourself, you’ll be brave enough to read it anyway.

Start your journey to being #bravereveryday and click here

THE BOOK

large (22)After running a competition where I was giving away five beautiful, limited edition novels, I had twelve replies. Yes, TWELVE.

Now, with the likes of Google Analytics, I’m well aware how many people viewed the post and can tell you that the number of entries I received was considerably lower than the number of hits it got.

I didn’t run the competition to gain followers, drive traffic or benefit myself. In fact, the books were free, I’ve made no profit from doing it and I actually have to fork out money for postage. And I’m happy to. The whole reason I chose to run the competition was to aid World Book Night in their quest to promote reading to those who have forgotten about the written word.

I clearly failed. But why am I so bothered?

I’m bothered because, had I been giving away a mascara, a bronzer or even a framed photo of Jonathan Ross, I guarantee I’d have been inundated. But a book? With pages? Giving life to a beautiful story?

Silence.

We all say that it’s not easy to find the time to read, but really, if you find the time to browse YouTube videos or scroll through pictures of cats online, then you do in fact have time. Plus, everyone needs a poo at some point or other, so instead of counting floor tiles, turn some pages and use your imagination.

This post sounds aggressive, probably because it is. But it’s only because I care.

Perhaps I care because I’m currently surrounded by books on a daily basis? Perhaps it’s because I studied Literature at university? I think the main reason is because I appreciate how much work goes into producing a novel. Particularly a good one. Which is why I have been dedicating twenty minutes each evening to reading. No excuses.

I’m genuinely begging you to chuck a book in your bag before you set off for work in the morning. Then, on your lunch break, on that same old lengthy commute, or just when you’re really, really bored, get it out and begin your reading journey.

I went through a phase of not reading for a while, it happens to everyone. And when I started back up again, it felt weird at first. And dare I say it, a bit boring. But once your author has introduced you to your characters for the next 573 pages and has transported you to their chosen destination, you’ll find yourself no longer on the dreary Northern Line, but wherever they’ve decided to take you that morning. And that’s much more appealing than avoiding eye contact with strangers or playing Candy Crush for an hour.

Of course, there are some books out there that are a bit shit. Others just might not be your cup of tea. But saying you don’t like books before you’ve read all the books in the world is like saying you don’t like music without exploring all avenues: you just haven’t figured out what your taste buds are craving yet. So, much like I used to tell my old English students, do a taste test or a “fifty page run” and then decide whether to stick with it or sack it off- no one is forcing you to read a certain type of book. It’s the reason we have thousands of imprints; different folks, different strokes and all that.

Aside from all of this moaning from little old me, I was really happy to receive some competition entries. And I loved them.

The winners of my beautiful book are:

Heidi Dyson

Imani Backes

Cha Cha

Marielo

Catherine Dunne

and…

Fleur McCorkindale

Thank you so much to all of you who entered, I (and the books) really appreciate it. Don’t forget to pass them on when you’re done.

Happy Reading!

100

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No, my blog is not one hundred years old. I have, however, published one hundred posts since it all began back in December 2010. And that, I believe, is cause for celebration.

As I sat in my tiny – and very chilly – bedroom in Exeter in my third year at university, I wrote my first few posts. I think they were about tea, or lipstick, or chips; a little insight into what I thought was important at 21. As I threw words out there, somewhat naively, into the internet, I didn’t picture my blog lasting past the Christmas holidays, but here I am, four and a bit years later, writing my 100th post.

I started The London Ladybird as a way to write something other than chapters of my dissertation – which was centred around Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and therefore not wholly uninteresting – as well as to hopefully try and persuade people in the working world that I could string a couple of sentences together and that they should pay me to do so. But not even just that; I hoped that I could make people laugh, or feel a little more understood than they did already.

The feedback I get from people is why this site is still up and running. Those who have provided guest posts to me over the years always say how nerve-wracking they found the whole experience and a lot of people say they would never submit anything to me for fear of being ridiculed. I won’t lie, I still feel a little anxious each time I publish a post – not because I don’t want people to critique my work, in fact, I welcome constructive criticism – but I fear that people won’t enjoy the next as much as the last. However, the conversations that my posts inspire amongst friends and the comments I receive from strangers (be them agreeing with what I have to say or not) make it all worthwhile.

I’ve decided to celebrate all of this by choosing my top three posts since it all began, so here they are:

The Freckle – because it was my first ever.

The Fart – because I can’t believe I wrote about something so grim.

The Betrayal – because it was hard to write and even harder to post.

So, for as long as you are (hopefully) still enjoying this little space of mine on the internet, I’ll continue to write about everything from relationships to embarrassing bodily functions, because, why not? And if you’re contemplating starting one of your own, my advice to you would be to go for it; you really don’t have much to lose.

My one piece of advice? Always remember that:

‘The internet’s not written in pencil, Mark, it’s written in ink’

The Social Network. 

Only post what you really mean. Be honest, be smart, be open to other’s opinions.

Thank you for all of your support over the years. Here’s to the next one hundred posts!